NICOMEDES SPEAKS TO THE SENATE FLOOR JULIUS CAESAR LAY DEAD ON 

this is the first time i have been jealous of
a thing i could not fight. o, were i to ambush you,
i would also bleed out on your chest. o, to be

you, to be an object feet do not distinguish from
ground, to be pressed against his cheek—
rumor has it he was not moved for three hours

after he was stabbed. that he was slaughtered
heaving, drenched in surprise, his body gutted
like a commoner’s meal—i heard the streets

quaked under the people’s anger. how they felt
the sun candle-flicker and knew their hero was
dead. o, how i wish for a lesser existence,

that i could burn the city down around his tomb
with the rest of the rabble. o, to be the tomb
his body rested final in. to be the sky that

cradled him gently in her teeth. o, to be a 
her, that way i could love him in the daytime.
i’ve heard they call him my Queen. that they

slander his name with mine and this is
a lofty sin. how they chew on our softness
like too-tough game and spit it out gummed

and wilted. o, to be only a mouth. for my tongue
to serve as hands and hold him everywhere salt
littered his skin. o, that my heart was something

unbreakable. let this civil war stop dragging me
into battle against better judgement. let the divide
of me heal and all the dead soldiers carry their

heads back home for their wives to mend.
o, Senate floor. o, vicious, cavernous city. o,
blood of my lover’s heart, an unwilling portrait,

as though God himself painted the stairs wet
with warning. if nothing else, i want to tell the
truth. that i loved him and the very sky cackled 

at it. that once i memorized his hands in the dark 
and this is how we knew each other. two ships
colliding. a cracked hull and an approaching

shore. the sound a sword makes at its first
unsheath. how the air hums with promise and
the sun hits the gold glint of it and burns a

silly hunger into the throats of everyone witness.
o, were i you, to have his undress spill over
me once more and no one to question its

usefulness. o, curse my acute absence in his life, 
that i may be a character witness to his ascendence, 
that the full honest might need me to remember it. 

*Nicomedes IV was the king of Bithynia, and the most notable of Julius Caesar's rumored "homosexual" lovers. To slander Julius Caesar and ruin his political career at various turns, his enemies colloquially referred to him as the "Queen of Bithynia."

TWO YEARS AFTER THE PROTEST

when we ate each other drunk & drugged 
& tear-gassed & agreed to leave our mouths 
like this—echo oscillating into truth—
i get lost reading a map so i look up for a 
landmark & in front of me is your university—
& now suddenly this city is also yours
& of course that’s why the wind whipped my cheek—
why i hear your laugh in the sting of it—
this explains the steam dancing off the sidewalk 
in the shape of your shoulders—
o brief love of mine we promised each 
other the future & we couldn’t even 
make it a full calendar year—o everywhere 
i think of you book-marks itself in 
my chest—last year the cops took 
the GPS loaded with everywhere 
my exes & i had been together & maybe i was 
a little grateful—the state stole from me 
what i could not bring myself to reclaim—
gone the minefield of soft blue dots
bug bites itching on the legs of time
gone your hometown & my new favorite 
diner & everywhere we found by accident 
that we wanted to remember how to get 
back to—so of course i am lost shivering pissed 
off in front of an altar made to you reminding 
me again how small & stupid & crying
i am—of course your city surprises me—
of course despite the map i can’t find anywhere 
without you.


L. REEMAN (they/them) is an interdisciplinary archivist and poet, usually found driving away from somewhere. They are the author of BLOODMUCK (The Atlas Review, 2018) and INVENTION OF THE MOUTH (Dream Pop Press, 2019), won the Alternating Current's 2018 Charter Oak award for Best Historical Poem, and have work in the 2017 Bettering American Poetry anthology. They want to hear about your favorite bridge.